Justice Department Officials Faulted In Fast And Furious Report
No criminal charges are recommended in the 471-page report, but singled out Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer for not recognizing the flaws inherent in the program.
In the report, the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, placed the bulk of the blame on a group of Arizona-based federal prosecutors and agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The report concluded that the officials' failure to seize illegal weapons flooded the Southwest border with more than 2,000 illegally-purchased firearms and led to the high-profile death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in December 2010.
It found no evidence that Justice Department officials authorized the tactics, but blamed several officials for not recognizing red flags and failing to act on a similar investigation called Operation Wide Receiver, in which drug gangs also got a hold of firearms.
The report also absolved Attorney General Eric Holder of any involvement in the gunrunning program. It stated Holder had no prior knowledge of Fast and Furious until after Terry's death. The botched operation ignited a political tussle between Holder and congressional Republicans, who voted him in contempt of Congress.
"Today’s report affirms the problem of gunwalking was a field-driven tactic that dated back to the previous Administration, and it was this Administration’s Attorney General who ended it," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement, according to CNN.
The findings revealed that Kenneth Melson, then the acting ATF director, seemed more concerned that agents were leaking information to the news media about the operation, instead of focusing on events leading to Terry's death, according to NBC News. Melson, who was transferred out of the position, retired immediately after the release of the report.
Read more Neon Tommy coverage of Fast and Furious here.